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The National Academies
500 5th St NW - KWS 502
Washington, DC 20001
Tel: (202) 334-2800
Fax: (202) 334-2139
Phase 2 (2006 Deadline)
Assessment and Development of Renewable Ground Water Resources in the
Quetta Valley, Pakistan
Local men assist with the collection of water samples from a natural spring in the eastern Quetta Valley. Samples collected from all over the valley were analyzed for major and trace elements and isotopes to identify contaminants and trace the sources of the water (December 2007).
Mohamed Sultan, Western Michigan University, and Shuhab Khan, University of Houston
Abdul Salam Khan, University of Balochistan, Quetta
Pakistani Funding (HEC): $254,590
US Funding: $199,986
Project Dates on US Side: February 1, 2007 - January 31, 2011
Balochistan is the largest province in Pakistan, yet it has the lowest population density, largely due to the scarcity of its water resources. Furthermore, the indiscriminate and unplanned use of groundwater resources to meet water requirements in Balochistan in general and in the Quetta Valley in particular has led in recent years to unsustainable overexploitation of groundwater. This has progressively depleted groundwater levels in Quetta, which has had serious socioeconomic impacts due to the resulting migration of rural residents to urban areas. All of this points to the urgent need for assessing and developing the groundwater resources of the Quetta Valley. With funding previously provided by the United Nations Development Program and the Global Environmental Facility, researchers at one of the US partner institutions on this project, Western Michigan University, had developed cost-effective methodologies for groundwater assessment and exploration in arid lands. These experiences and methodologies were brought to bear in this project.
The partners involved in this project applied an integrated multidisciplinary approach for groundwater exploration in the Quetta Valley in which inferences from remote sensing data were integrated with observations extracted from other data sources, such as geochemistry, field geology, drilling, geophysics, and surface runoff and groundwater flow modeling to gain a better understanding of the hydrological setting and identify locations of potential productive wells.
Western Michigan University's Web site regarding the project is available at http://www.esrs.wmich.edu/htm/groundwater__resources_in_quetta_pakistan.htm.
- Developed the first calibrated hydrologic model for the northeastern part of the Pishin Lora (NEPL) basin using methodologies that rely heavily on readily available remote sensing data
- Discovered that the construction of delay-action dams in the northeastern and northwestern sub-basins of the NEPL could increase recharge from 361 X 106 m3/year to up to 432 X 106 m3/year and achieve sustainable extraction
- Discovered that Quetta Valley has experienced progressively increasing decline in groundwater levels in the last three decades and that the groundwater from the area has high concentrations of nitrate, sulfate, selenium, chromium and nickel
- Constructed the hydrologic model for the Pishin Laura basin, that was also developed into a teaching module being taught in the GIS and remote sensing classes at Western Michigan University (WMU)
- Trained 20 students and faculty members by workshop; one PhD student in WMU, one PhD student in University of Balochistan, and two undergraudate students in University of Houston were also trained under this project
Progress Report Summaries
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2010 Show summary || Hide summary || Download full report
Dr. Mohamed Sultan of Western Michigan University with Dr. Khalid and Mr. Ishaq of the University of Balochistan, collecting a water sample from a kareze (part of a system of underground channels) north of Quetta. The tunnels are laid on natural gradients to drain water with minimum evaporation loss, and they require no energy for pumping. Water at this location shows elevated levels of contaminates, possibly from the green (ultramafic) rocks in the background (December 2007).
During 2010, the researchers on this project continued their activities updating and expanding the web based GIS database, calibration and validation of their computer modeling of watersheds in Pishin Lora basin. The majority of the efforts went to the construction and calibration of the rainfall model and the use of this model to develop water management scenarios. During the year, the thirty water and soil samples collected by Dr. Salam Khan and his colleagues were analyzed at the University of Huston for major, minor and trace elements. The new data further supports their previous findings that suggested contamination in water quality in Quetta valley at many locations.
In Fall 2010, Mr. Zhanay Sagintayev was awarded his PhD degree under the supervision of Dr. Sultan at Western Michigan University. As a by product of this research, several laboratory modules and tutorials were developed. These modules were used in two graduate courses at WMU (GEOS 5210 - Remote Sensing Applications in Geological and Environmental Sciences, and GEOS 5350 - GIS Applications in Geological and Environmental Sciences). Two undergraduate students at WMU received training on , and assisted in, the development of the Pishin Lora web-based GIS.
At University of Balochistan, two students are pursuing their PhD and M. Phil research on this project under the supervision of Dr. Salam Khan. New courses of advanced Hydrogeology and water resources management have been introduced in the Curriculum of MS, M. Phil and PhD. The Ph.D and M.Phile students attended one day workshop on the “hydrogeology of the Taalab area Chagia District, Pakistan”.
At University of Houston, two undergraduate students helped in this project. Xiong, Yingqian, a PhD student, was involved in water analysis. Dr. Khan serves as a co-advisor of a PhD candidate Mr. Khawar Sohail whose dissertation is on water resources of Quetta valley. Dr. Khan also has been giving guidance to a few M.Phil students.
During the year 2010, three research papers were published. The research findings were presented by Drs. Salam Khan and Khalid Mahmood on the exhibition under Pakistan - U.S. Program "Showcasing the Pakistan - U.S. Research Collaboration" on June 9, 2010, Islamabad, Pakistan. Another research paper titled "Remote Sensing Contributions to Rainfall - Runoff Modeling of the Pishin Lora Basin, Balochistan, Pakistan" was presented in the Geological Survey of America (GSA) Annual Meeting in Denver on November 1, 2010. The hydrologic modeling research findings for the study area were also presented for the Canadian hydro power production company Manitoba Hydro. At the same time, they have modified the web-based GIS to work on a Google Earth interface.
2009 Show summary || Hide summary || Download full report
Prof. Khalid Mahmood spent two weeks each at the University of Houston and Western Michigan University, sharing and evaluating data with the US partners and also receiving intensive hands-on training in rainfall-runoff modeling. As a result of this visit, Prof. Mahmood and Dr. Shuhab Khan produced a joint paper entitled "Trace element geochemistry of groundwater from Quetta Valley, western Pakistan" that will be published in the journal Environmental Earth Sciences. The team had planned for Pakistani project director Dr. Abdul Salam Khan to make the visit along with Dr. Mahmood, but unfortunately his visa application was delayed for months. Dr. Khan ultimately received his visa and visited both his US partners at their universities from June 7 through July 15, 2009, with all costs for both visits to the United States being paid for by the Pakistani side. Three joint papers resulting from his visit are currently in preparation.
The data set gathered for this project by the Pakistani researchers represents a unique and valuable resource, as most of the information obtained from such sources as the Geological Survey of Pakistan, the Power and Irrigation Department, the Public Health Engineering Department, and the Geophysical Center Quetta, previously existed only in relatively inaccessible printed form. The data have now been digitized and manually entered into databases for analysis. The web-based GIS mentioned above has been created and posted for public access at (http://www.esrs.wmich.edu/website/Pakistan/viewer.htm). Upon completion, it will include comprehensive coverage in categories such as geophysics, geology, land use, precipitation, and remote sensing data sets. Meanwhile, the project has also made it possible for the University of Balochistan to establish a new water chemistry laboratory and GIS/remote sensing laboratory and to introduce new courses on advanced hydrogeology and water resources management.
2008 Show summary || Hide summary || Download full report
The US researchers had planned to make another visit to Quetta in the spring of 2008, but this had to be postponed due to serious security problems in the Quetta area and in particular the assassination of the vice chancellor of the University of Balochistan in April 2008. However, the situation stabilized and they were able to travel to Quetta in August 2008 to present a week-long course entitled “Introduction to Geographic Information Systems and the Science and Application of Geochemical and Isotopic Methods in Groundwater Resources Evaluation.” A total of 15 students attended. During the visit they also had the chance to consult with Dr. Abdul Salam Khan and his colleagues in furtherance of their ongoing research. Another member of the Quetta research team, Prof. Khalid Mahmood, started his visit to the United States on December 11, 2008.
2007 Show summary || Hide summary || Download full report
Dr. Shuhab Khan visited Pakistan in May 2007 to coordinate efforts with the Pakistani collaborators, conduct a preliminary field trip in the study area, and address logistical aspects of the project. During the trip, he and his colleagues identified and collected preliminary geologic and hydrogeologic data for the project, identified sites for water sampling, met with officials from several governmental agencies for potential collaboration (including the Geological Survey of Pakistan, Water and Power Development Authority, Water and Sanitation Agency, Irrigation Department, and others), and interviewed and selected Pakistani students and technicians who will work on the project. Dr. Khan also conducted an informal training session at the Center of Excellence in Mineralogy (CEM) at the University of Balochistan, Quetta. The session, which covered the basics of water sampling, laboratory analysis and GIS and remote sensing methodologies, was attended by the Pakistani principal investigators and other faculty members from CEM and the Departments of Chemistry and Geology.
In addition, Drs. Shuhab Khan and Mohamed Sultan made two presentations related to their work in the Quetta Valley at the October 2007 annual meeting of the Geological Society of America. They also traveled to Pakistan in December 2007 to continue work on the project. While there, they conducted a two-day training session at the University of Balochistan on integrated research applications (remote sensing, GIS, geochemistry, geophysics) for identifying ground water reservoirs in arid areas. They also collected samples of surface and groundwater from various sites in the Quetta Valley and brought the samples back to the United States for geochemical and isotopic analysis.
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